NEW YORK – What we had here was a failure to communicate.
Strother Martin said it in “Cool Hand Luke,” and on Saturday at Yankee Stadium, catcher John Jaso said it of Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Hector Noesi – who gave up four second-inning runs in the New York Yankees’ 6-2 win.
“We had two strikes to just about everybody in that second inning, and they wound up with three doubles and a home run,” Jaso said. “That’s four runs they don’t get if we execute.”
The inning and the game unraveled in double-time, and all four runs came with two outs – meaning Noesi was always one pitch from getting out of it.
“I was trying to do my best, and maybe I pushed it a little too much, left my side open,” Noesi said.
For Jaso, it was simpler than that.
“With two strikes, any of those pitches in the dirt and we’re out of the inning,” the catcher said. “When I went to the mound, I told Hector, ‘Put it in the dirt, I’ll block it.’ ”
Noesi didn’t. Not in time.
Over the span of five batters, he cost himself and the Mariners a game.
With one out, Mark Teixeira doubled. With two outs, Noesi left a change-up belt high over the plate, and former Mariners star Raul Ibañez doubled for a 1-0 lead.
“You can’t leave a pitch up to a professional hitter like Ibañez,” Jaso said. “It’s what he was looking for.”
Next up, catcher Russell Martin, batting .179.
Jaso wanted a slider in the dirt, got one closer to the knees that turned into another RBI double and a 2-0 lead.
Next up, Jayson Nix, a reserve shortstop. Fastball up – and gone, a two-run home run that put Seattle behind, 4-0. They would never get closer.
While Noesi couldn’t force himself to throw a pitch in the dirt that inning, the Mariners couldn’t do anything with Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who came in bent beneath a 6.67 earned-run average.
For six innings, the Mariners managed two hits, got exactly one runner into scoring position and fell behind 5-0 when Ibañez – again! – homered for the seventh time this season.
“Hector made the two-strike mistakes in the second inning, but he was really good today,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “He got a lot of good hitters out, was efficient with his pitch count.
“He will be a heck of a pitcher. He didn’t bury those pitches that one inning, like he did later. He’ll learn.”
The cost of the lesson was Noesi’s fourth loss, the Mariners’ 20th.
Although they managed eight hits – the same as the Yankees – the Mariners didn’t score until the seventh inning, and then only on a solo home run by Mike Carp.
“I’ve been seeing the ball well since I came back, but my timing was off,” Carp said. “After my second at-bat, (batting coach) Chris Chambliss came over and mentioned my leg kick. It was a little high.
“I made a small adjustment and had three swings after we talked. I hit the home run, fouled a pitch off, then doubled off the top of the wall in the ninth.”
That double was initially ruled a two-run home run, though after umpires reviewed it they waved Carp back to second base, giving him one RBI, not two for the hit.
Still, those two runs were all Seattle got, in part because with one out and Carp at second base, Justin Smoak and then Michael Saunders struck out.
Which again called attention to New York’s second inning.
Like the man who will start today, Kevin Millwood, Noesi has usually struggled to control damage in one inning in each of his starts. If he can keep it to two runs or fewer, he has won.
Two runs or more, he loses – in part because the Mariners don’t have the consistent offense to overcome four-run rallies.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 5-0 either way,” Carp said, “you play the same game. You try to add runs.”
Truth is, however, the Mariners have not scored enough to overcome the kind of second inning Noesi allowed.
Afterward, he insisted, it wasn’t nerves, or coming back to the place where he made his big-league debut last year.
“I was relaxed. Coming back wasn’t that big a deal,” Noesi said. “They’re a different team, I’m with a different team, and it’s my job to get them out.”
Before and after the second inning, he did his part, working a total of seven innings, allowing one run other than in that single rally. And next time out, there’s a better chance communication will firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners Twitter: @LarryLarue